VA-ETCHANAN — Raising children is not only about teaching our children how to be successful in the future, going to the right schools and finding the right job. It’s also about teaching them ethics that will carry them through their lives. The ethics we teach to our children are meant to last a lifetime and, in fact, to outlive us. Moses is told in this Torah portion that he will not be able to enter the Promised Land. But he is to teach the people of Israel a body of ethics to serve them in their building of a...Read More
DEVARIM — All kids use sarcasm at a certain point in their lives. It can be light-hearted or disrespectful and mean-spirited. Parents are often at a loss as to how to respond to it. If you call your children on it, they often say, “I was only joking”. Sarcasm is a slippery behavior, often hard to pinpoint. This week’s Torah portion, Devarim, retells the story of the spies who traveled to the Promised Land and come back with a negative report to the Israelites camped in the desert. God is angry with them, not only for the negative things...Read More
DEVARIM — Criticism is hard to give and hard to hear. As parents it is a challenge to criticize our children in a way that isn’t too hurtful and doesn’t engender defensive feelings. Yet, it’s important to give constructive feedback to our children, as well as to hear feedback from those we love, if we are going to be effective parents. This week we begin the book of Devarim, the book of Deuteronomy. It is a long speech by Moses before the children of Israel enter the Promised Land, including a review of their history and of criticism for...Read More
BECHUKOTAI — Most Americans have warm homes and enough to eat. Their children have many toys to play with. And yet, there are many people here in America and around the world who don’t have enough. Some of those people we pass on the street each day. Others are living in the margins in substandard housing or shelters. Children notice the discrepancies between those who have enough and those who don’t and try to make sense of it. Early on in their lives children can learn what it means to try to help those who don’t have enough. In this week’s...Read More
BEHAR — “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names can never hurt me.” This ditty, often recited by kids when they are called names, is designed to protect a child from the meanness of other children. But, words, truth be told, are powerful weapons. Indeed, it would be more honest to chant: “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names can hurt me!” Children are especially vulnerable to the words of another. In our Torah portion this week we are enjoined “not to wrong one another”, meaning not hurt one another with words. Instead we are to consider...Read More
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